Game engineer explained
If you have an affinity for tech and have always wanted to know the intricate details of how tech is used to develop the video games we know and love, then a career in games engineering may be the pathway for you. We at Cybernews Academy have outlined what a video game engineer does and the tools and techniques used by video game engineers and designers to create the best product possible. We have outlined some details that bring games to life, such as the game's development life cycle. Alongside these crucial details, we have included what degrees apply to game engineering and the career path of a game engineer.
What is a Game Engineer?
A games engineer has many different names and wears various hats. A game engineer is an individual who helps to produce video games we know and love. This discipline encompasses multiple activities, from conceptualizing game ideas to programming and testing the final product. Game engineering has been characterized as a multidisciplinary field that requires cross-collaboration to bring a video game to life. A game engineer or a game programmer works with various people in the industry, such as programmers, illustrators, and testers, to design video games. This form of engineering is specific and complex and requires a certain level of expertise. A games programmer is usually a software engineer, programmer, or computer scientist responsible for codebases for video games or related software.
Tools and techniques
As game engineering is a multidisciplinary field, this individual needs a lot of tools in their repertoire. You may need game engines, a particular software designed for developing games — Unreal Engine 4, Unity, GameMaker, and Godot are among the most popular software used to create games. The game engine you use depends on the type of game you aim to emulate, whether an RPG or a 2D platform game. You will need Integrated Developer Environments such as Visual Studio and GNU Tool Chain for coding and programming. Many large gaming firms also expect you to have a good knowledge of C++, Java, and other Web Languages. This language will depend on which kind of game you are making – whether that’s a mobile game or a game for browsers. If you are focusing on mobile gaming, there are tools like Marmalade or ARM. For the aesthetic design aspects game, you can use Photoshop, GIMP, and Blender to create objects and other visual elements.
Game development lifecycle
There are various steps taken when creating an excellent video game. According to Game Developer, many developers, programmers, and engineers “have described the game development lifecycle or GDLC as a life cycle of software development used to entertain the end users.”
Here are the steps to design, engineer, and develop a video game:
- The initiation or ideas stage - refers to the point where the team decides what kind of game they plan on producing, who are the target audiences, what characters will be featured, and what type of game it will be.
- Market research - this involves analyzing the market to define your target audience and potential competition. This also includes the feasibility study, which allows the developers, programmers, and engineers to focus on the requirements, profitability, and other technical issues that may arise during the early stages.
- Pre-production is where game engineers shine as they build the prototypes for the game to test and demonstrate the developer's ideas. This step happens before any of the complex coding takes place. This step also includes developing a story or script, designing the gameplay, and programming the game engine.
- Production begins - this is the start of the production process, where various minds come together, including artists, game designers, and programmers, to start creating the game. Aspects of this step will include coding and other design elements, such as layout design. Game engineers will work closely with designers at this stage as the technical skills of the engineers complement those of the designers.
- The game has various iterations before it has reached its final form. These include the Alpha version, a playable yet incomplete game version that may contain bugs. The Beta version is the complete and final version that requires some bug fixes. The Release or Master version is the game version ready to be released to the public.
Degrees for gamers
If you are interested in embarking on a career in games engineering, you may want to consider the following qualifications that will serve as the foundation for your future career:
- Computer Science (with Games Engineering)
- Software Engineering
- Information Technology
- Games Technology
- Games Engineering (MSc)
You could take supplementary courses related to games engineering and other computer science and information technology fields. A game programmer or engineer should be well-versed in various computer languages and may specialize in coding, such as graphics, artificial intelligence, sound, and scripting. If you are planning on becoming a games engineer, you will need knowledge of programming languages such as C, C+, Java, and other languages. A degree in computer science or a related field will provide the framework for understanding these languages and how to use them. In addition to these skills, you should also have an excellent understanding of technical mathematics.
Show them what you’ve got
A strong portfolio is essential when securing a job in your chosen field. Suppose you want to break into game engineering. In that case, consider working on mini-projects, open-source games, or participating in competitions that you could include in your portfolio. Internships and hands-on experience are great ways to get noticed in the industry. Contact leading game companies and ask if they have internship opportunities available. Gaining hands-on experience is a perfect way to secure a job post-graduation, and it will help you put the theoretical knowledge you have learned at university into practice. You should also consider contacting game developers, engineers, or designers on LinkedIn and other networking sites to see if they have any advice on breaking into the industry.
Career as a Games Engineer
Suppose you want to kick-start your career as a games engineer. In that case, you should consider a degree in computer science or any other related field, build a portfolio surrounding your work, and secure some hands-on experience in the industry. As a games engineer, you will be responsible for developing the software that will create the video game.
Some other responsibilities may include but aren’t limited to:
- Developing, debugging, and maintaining code used in video games
- Developing and maintaining game engines and tools
- Optimizing code and game performance
- Designing and implementing artificial intelligence systems
- Optimizing code and game performance
Usually, game engineers will start their careers at a junior level and specialize in various aspects of game development as they work their way up. There are multiple roles a games engineer can take on during their career.
These roles include:
- Network programmer - codes multiplayer games.
- Tool programmer - builds tools needed to develop the game.
- User interface programmer - develops and maintains user interfaces.
- Scripter - writes code and assists with design.
- Lead game programmer - the lead software manager who governs the software department
Zippia reports that a Games Engineer's average salary in the U.S. is approximately $104,976 annually.
Gamin has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry, and the demand for skilled professionals has skyrocketed. Different people embodying separate roles in the gaming industry are needed to create an incredible product. A games engineer plays a significant part in creating and maintaining some of the most important games in history. This individual aids in crafting unique, immersive experiences that aim to entertain and inspire the user. Suppose you’ve ever felt inspired or motivated while playing a video game and have always wanted to learn the mechanics of video game production. In that case, game engineering might just be the career for you.